Rhode Island-based Roam Loud speaks volumes with its focus on black women

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For Omisore, this ethos includes using black designs in its advertisements and social media posts, as well as choosing fabric colors that complement darker skin tones. Her brand also has a YouTube channel and a blog with content aimed at BIPOC women.

“But Roam Loud isn’t just for black and brown women,” says Omisore, whose mother and father met in Providence in the 1980s after moving to the United States from Liberia and Nigeria, respectively. “I just provide the platform for them to feel seen. The bottom line is to encourage all women to break out of societal norms and make our own rules.

Toyin Omisore, left, owner and designer of Roam Loud, looks at images taken by photographer Mayker Duran (not pictured) during a photo shoot of a Roam Loud outfit worn by model Aminah Fonseca at Duran’s studio in Providence, Rhode Island.Matthew Healey for the Boston Globe

Omisore’s career trajectory aligns with her brand’s motivational messages. In the spring of 2020, she pivoted from an established career in social work to launch Roam Loud as a one-woman operation. She started by selling her designs directly to consumers through an online store.

Now, Roam Loud leggings, sports bras and jackets are available for purchase at major Kohl stores and CorePower Yoga studios across the country. And the brand has been featured in several national fashion and fitness publications.

How did she do it? “That’s the million dollar question,” Omisore said with a smile as she sat at her desk in an office building on Park Avenue in Cranston.

The office’s bright orange walls are covered with posters of models posing confidently in sets of Roam Loud sports bras and leggings. There’s also a framed print of the company’s brand manifesto, which she wrote after part of it came to her in a dream one night.

“Too often we create boxes and boundaries for ourselves that leave us unfulfilled,” reads in part.

Several factors led to the brand’s relatively rapid success, she says. Before launching Roam Loud, Omisore had spent around a decade working on other start-ups, including a vending machine company and a dating app. These were not ultimately successful, but helped her learn skills related to marketing and web design. She has also volunteered as Events and Reservations Director for Providence-based Styleweek Northeast.

“I’ve been told in important meetings that the forward-looking brand of Roam Loud seems to be older than it is,” says Omisore. “So I was able to be taken seriously in a short time – but I also had to be able to deliver.”

This year, Roam Loud apparel hit the shelves of 100 Kohl stores across the country. Pieces include leggings and sports bras in vibrant hues.Mayker Duran

Omisore comes from a business-minded family, which also helped. While working on the concept of Roam Loud, she tapped into the community that her sister, Kemi Asani, created through her own fitness brand, Afrobeat Fit. The cellphone company hosts cardio “sweat sessions” with African-inspired movement and music. Early on, Omisore organized pop-up shops and solicited feedback during her sister’s classes all over the East Coast.

Omisore creates the concepts and sketches for its sportswear, then works with manufacturers in China and Brazil to produce the garments.

Another thing that helped her succeed: when she started her business at the start of the pandemic, she easily found an engaged audience online. “I spent a lot of time at home in online groups talking about my brand,” she says.

That summer, as social justice protests following the murder of George Floyd sparked a call to support black-owned businesses, Roam Loud was tagged on numerous articles and social media posts. which increased online sales.

“We were absolutely swept away by many of the conversations that were going on,” says Omisore. “And with more people buying online back then, it was easier to find small businesses like mine.”

Before the end of 2020, a buyer from CorePower Yoga, the country’s largest chain of yoga studios, emailed Omisore asking if she wanted to talk. Now, her sports bras and leggings are sold on CorePower’s website and at nearly 80 of her studios, including three in the Boston area.

Caitlin Noble, retail buyer for CorePower Yoga, said Roam Loud’s inclusive brand message is only part of its appeal.

“Toyin launched Roam Loud to celebrate individual passions and identities, which aligns with our mission to create a supportive and inclusive community while supporting the growth and long-term success of BIPOC businesses,” says Noble.

Toyin Omisore, center, looks at images taken by photographer Mayker Duran, right, during a photoshoot of a Roam Loud outfit worn by model Aminah Fonseca, left.Matthew Healey for the Boston Globe

Last January, Roam Loud apparel hit the shelves of 100 Kohl stores across the country. The pieces, which are also available on the retailer’s website, include leggings and sports bras in vibrant hues of pink and orange, and a neon green cropped jacket.

“As a new brand to have that stamp of approval from Kohl’s is amazing,” says Omisore. “Seeing it in stores was a bit surreal. It was like an out of body experience.

Roam Loud’s designs bear names of African origin, including the Niabo top and the Ziama jacket. They are meant to honor Omisore’s mother, Amanda, a nurse with the Department of Corrections, and her Liberian maternal grandmother, whom she never got to meet.

“The way my mother described my grandmother as a hard worker and an amazing mother inspired me,” she says.

Omisore is looking to build on its success by working with other retailers. She also creates a new collection and develops more sizes, so that her pieces adapt to all morphologies.

It’s been gratifying, she says, to finally make it through after spending years learning by trial and error.

“You have to believe in yourself tremendously,” says Omisore. “You are going to have terrible days, but you have to get up the next day and move on.”

When she needs a lift, she looks to her own words in the manifesto hanging on her office wall: “We are called,” it reads, “to travel the world on our own terms.”

For more information, visit roamloud.com.

Toyin Omisore framed a printout of the company’s brand manifesto, which she wrote after part of it came to her in a dream one night. “Too often we create boxes and boundaries for ourselves that leave us unfulfilled,” reads in part.Matthew Healey for the Boston Globe
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